Monday, 28 December 2015

Top 10 New Year's Resolutions for Knitters and Crocheters

1. Learn a new technique.

Does lace look oh so tempting, but too scary to try? Do you wonder how on earth to work with more than one colour yarn at the same time? And are you afraid you will end up with knots in your fingers when attempting cabling? Now is the time to try something new and to simply give it a go.

2. Make something you have never made before.

Have you always wanted to learn how to knit socks or yearned to make your first jumper? Take the plunge and see how it goes. All knitting is a matter of following a pattern - just follow the instructions and you, too, will end up with a project to be proud of, no matter how daunting it may seem at first.

3. Treat yourself to a yarn you have dreamed of for a long time.

We all know the feeling: We come across beautiful yarn that we would love to own and turn into something pretty, but it is too expensive or not the kind of yarn we would normally use. And yet we really want it, but think better of it than to splurge on such precious yarn. But what is life without the occasional treat? Next time you fall in love with a yarn your brain tells you not to buy, listen to your heart instead and simply enjoy the pretty.

4. By from an independent dyer.

There are so many wonderful independent yarn dyers who work hard to create the most amazing colours for knitting and crochet. Have a look around and see what they have to offer: perhaps you will find your new favourite yarn and you will know exactly who has dyed it for you.

5. Knit  or crochet a miniature.

We tend to stick with projects of similar size most of the time because we all have our favourites. How about giving miniatures a go and making tiny little things? Mochi Mochi Land have specialised in tiny knits that are fun and cheerful and easy to make.

6. Try a new fibre.

I don't know about you, but I tend to stick with the same types of fibre most of the time, which can get a little boring. So why not give something new a try? Have you always wondered about alpaca, mohair and silk? Now is the time! Or how about more unusual things like yak, milk protein fibre or seacell? There is so much to choose from and I am definitely hoping to try new fibres in the new year.

7. Take a class or join a workshop.

If you haven't joined a class or workshop before, this is a great experience. You get to be with like-minded people and you learn something at the same time. Instead of trying to get to grips with a new technique, you have expert guidance and help at hand when you need it. Your local yarn shop and craft fairs tend to have a range of classes for all abilities so go check them out.

8. Go to a craft fair.

Speaking of which, craft fairs are a fun day out, but hold on to your wallet! There are so much tempting yarn,  tools and accessories that it is a good idea to set yourself a budget before you go. Then you can enjoy the fair, have a good look around and meet other crafters, too, without worrying about how much you are spending. There are lots of craft fairs all across the country so keep an eye our on social media, blogs and the local press for any announcements.

9. Expand your knitting needle or crochet hook collection.

Everyone needs the right tools and it is very frustrating if you are about to start a new project, only to find that you don't have the correct size hook or needle. It happens to me quite often, so I am planning to complete my knitting needle collection in the coming year (I already have all the crochet hooks I will ever need). So fill in the gaps in your collection or treat yourself to a complete set.

10. Treat yourself to pretty notions.

Apart from knitting needles and crochet hooks, there is a range of neat little helpers that make crafting so much easier. Cable needles, stitch markers, row counters, a knitting needle gauge, tape measure - all these and more are very handy as you work your way through your stash. Haven't got any yet? Go get some!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

A Happy Festive Season

It is Christmas Eve and I want to take the time to wish all of you who celebrate these days a merry Christmas and lots of relaxed knitting, spinning and crochet time with friends and family.

If you do not celebrate Christmas or instead enjoy other holidays at this time of year, I wish you a wonderful festive season with time to regain your energy and prepare for the new year ahead.

Enjoy this time of year, grab a cookie, and I shall see you again soon!

Monday, 21 December 2015

My First Jumper: Armholes Done!

Knitting? What knitting? I haven't knitted for over a week and I didn't even notice! 

Some of you may want to unfriend me now. I have no idea how this happened, but it did. I can only blame the busy Christmas season at work which has kept me thinking about all sorts of things that needed doing and were not at all about knitting. We had Christmas jumper day, onesie Wednesday, Secret Santa, the work Christmas meal, a Christmas theme party, and a whole lot of product launches at work (you know, because it is not all just fun and games all the time).

My jumper is in it's bag, waiting for me to continue with the body now that the armholes are done. This will be a really straightforward bit of knitting for a few inches and I just started the second colour change section. I made my first alteration and made the sleeves an inch wider than specified due to my measurements. In theory, I should also make the armholes deeper, but I decided not to because I am wondering if the extra sleeve width may be enough. If not, I will just have to either deal with it or rip back to start over. But, look! It actually looks like a jumper!

I am immensely please and totally in love with the red. I am so glad I chose it. Having bought the yarn online, I wasn't sure how the colour would look once it arrived. Not even looking up other knitters' projects in the same yarn helped because we all know how badly some cameras capture red. (My photos here are accurate, to my surprise.)

Considering how long I will be working on this project, it hasn't stopped me from planning further jumper projects and dreaming of wearing all those beautiful knits. Are you already thinking ahead, too? What do you want to knit in 2016? It's amazing we are nearly in the next year already.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

If I were yarn

If I were yarn, I would be made of wool. Nothing less than 100% of woolly goodness would do, although there may be a hint of silk in me. I am warm and cuddly to keep you comfortable and cosy. I am a balanced yarn, though I can be tightly plied as well. I'm dependable and unexpectedly durable considering my type of wool, useful for most things. Caring for me is a bit of work as I require being washed by hand only.

I would like to be a rare, special fibre like silk or camel, but I know I am simply a good quality wool instead, most likely Merino or Falkland, and there is nothing wrong with that. Many might underestimate my qualities at first glance, but those in the know will appreciate and recognise them.

Of course, I come in strong jewel tones, intense colours that work well on their own or in combination with each other. While I am a fingering/4-ply weight yarn, smooth and perhaps with a light sheen in the right light, I am very versatile and I make wonderful lacy shawls as well as pretty, warm socks, gloves and hats.

Sadly, I'm not a superwash yarn and you have to be careful with me. Make a mistake, and I'll be unforgiving. You can do your best to salvage me, but I will never be the same again. Yet, with the right care I will be just as good as when you first found me. 

And now it is your turn: What kind of yarn would you be and why?

Friday, 11 December 2015

Surprising Blog Stats

I am always keen to know where my readers are from and reading through my blog stats is fun. Sometimes interesting and curious things come up, sometimes unexpected things, too. Thanks to stats I have sometimes found that a website or blog featured one of my handmade stitch marker sets or a blog post I published recently. You never know what you're going to find.

Here is a screenshot of my all-time stats as of 6 December 2015:

Let me take this opportunity to say hello to my most unexpected readers: Hello Russia! You have been quite a big surprise. I never thought there were so many of you visiting this blog, but I am glad you are following along and enjoying what you see. 

I was also surprised to find that I have more readers in the US than in the UK, although, looking at population size, I suppose that's only natural. Germany comes in third place; I know there are lots of knitters in my home country (Gruß an die Heimat!). 

I am happy to see how we are all connected throughout the world by our love of wool, regardless of where we are. It's not just k2tog, it's knit several thousands together.  

Have you had similar surprises on your blog? Where do most of your readers come from and which is the most unlikely place you would have expected to see pop up in your stats?

Sunday, 6 December 2015

The Problem With Trying Something New

What have I done?

Now that I have made a start and braved knitting my first jumper (slow, but good progress), my favourites and my queue on Ravelry have exploded! For those unfamiliar with, let me explain: 

Ravelry has a huge database of knitting and crochet patterns with a very good search engine. You can favourite patterns you like, create bundles in which patterns are grouped by type, colour or whatever you fancy. You can also queue patterns, meaning you list them in the order you want to knit them. And that's what I have done.

Once I get the hang of knitting my jumper, I hope to make more. So I combed through Ravelry to see what is available in roughly my size and I ended up with 40 pages worth of patterns. Could have been worse! Those were only the patterns listed as plus size, so you can imagine how many more you would find for standard sizes. Of course, I only favourited a fraction of all patterns that came up and queued only three.

So let me show you the pretties in my queue at the moment:

Follow the links below for image sources.

1. Poema by Vera Sanon looks like an easy knit, especially if you like a bit of lace and are not intimidated by it. I like the simplicity of the body and the contrasting sleeves. I am sure I will enjoy knitting this pattern. What do you think?

2. Kate Davies is well known for her designs and I know her mainly as a designer of yoke jumpers with lovely stranded colourwork. However, I've never actually knitted anything of hers, but I have always been aware of her work. Well, I say always, but I mean for the past few years. Boreal jumped out at me from the start because of the use of colour and simple, traditional patterning. I can't wait to make this jumper, although I am not sure how making adjustments to the fit will work in this case because they will change the colourwork if I am not careful. This will take some thinking and tinkering.

3. And finally, another Kate Davies design that many will have come across before: the Owls jumper. There is also a version for children and another for a cardigan in chunky yarn. I have also loved this jumper ever since I first saw it and one day I will knit it! I am not keen on the idea of making it with chunky yarn as the pattern calls for, but I may well risk it. I suspect it will make things easier than improvising and hoping for the best... or doing even more dreaded maths than I have to do already. This will happen, I am just not sure how.

What have you got in your queue at the moment - on Ravelry or off? 

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Cushendale Woolen Mills DK: A Long Time Coming

I am embarrassed. I can't believe it took me nearly 4 months to complete this project, especially considering it isn't a difficult one. That does not bode well for my jumper, I must say.

In August I posted about the yarn I graciously received from Vibes & Scribes in Cork, Ireland, and I described my first impressions as I worked on the cowl/infinity scarf I chose to make with it. It wasn't a pleasant knit because the yarn is very rough. I have heard from others that it gets softer with time, but I am not convinced it will be pleasant to wear next to the skin. I have given it a wash already and can't say for sure whether the cowl is now any less rough than before. However, it did dry surprisingly quickly, which is a very good thing at this time of year.

The reason it took me this long to finish knitting it that I did not enjoy the roughness of the yarn. It made knitting anything other than simple stitches very difficult. That is why I abandoned the idea to knit the Cupido pattern and simply improvised after a few rows which are now the edging. I took another long break before actually knitting that final edging, another reason for the delay.

So, as I wrote in my first post, this Cushendale yarn is best suited for home furnishings like cushions, bags or anything that needs to resist wear. It is not my kind of yarn, unfortunately, but that is simply because I tend to knit things requiring finer, softer yarns and are meant to be worn close to the skin. So while this may not be my kind of yarn, maybe it is yours. 

Let me know if you have used Cushendale Woolen Mills DK and what your impressions are. What did you make and did it hold up well?

Thursday, 26 November 2015

My First Jumper: Neckline and Shoulders

Things are taking shape

It's happening! My first jumper is taking shape and I am loving it. I am very much aware of how long it will take me to finish this project. Finishing a round is taking a while - and I am still increasing every other round by 4 stitches, so this will take longer and longer as I progress.

As you can see, I have started adding red to the grey and it was very fiddly at the start. I hope the tension is okay. My stranded knitting can be rather disappointing when working on small projects, so goodness knows what this jumper will be like in the end. At the time of writing, I am actually nearly done with this pattern section and am just about to knit only in red. It's exciting!

Proof that I do use my own stitch markers

I am using my new ChiaoGoo interchangeable needles for this project and I think I will have to buy another cable and a connector soon because the jumper is getting wider. I won't be able to try it on unless I have a longer cable. Using these needles is a lot of fun and I haven't had any problems with them at all.

The yarn is beautiful to work with, too. Cascade 220 Superwash is definitely on my list for future jumpers, should this one turn out okay. It is very soft and feels wonderful while knitting. The fabric you get is beautiful, too, and I can just imagine wearing this jumper next to the skin and loving it. I am glad I gave this yarn a go at last, it is definitely worth trying to get your hands on it if you can. Let's hope the fabric will remain as good as it is now once it has been washed.

Seen from the wrong side

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Knitting and Crochet Inspiration: Winter

For us knitters, autumn is the time we think about what to knit that will keep us warm in winter. While we are having a very mild autumn where I am (and I am not complaining), the dreaded winter cold is always looming in the back of my mind. So if like me you need some knitting and crochet inspiration, I have put together four patterns that appealed to me during my recent forages through Ravelry's bottomless database. Enjoy!

 1. Nothing screams cosy winter nights like Snow White's cardigan. I love the colour and patterning of the yoke. It's the perfect piece for the season so I just had to show it to you. The pattern is available for free in English and Norwegian.

2. Ysolda Teague's Cadeautje features an intriguing bit of thrumming that is very easy to do, but I have not yet tried. Thrumming, as demonstrated by Ysolda herself in her Technique Thursday post, results in extremely cosy slippers that will keep your feet toasty no matter the weather. One day I will have to give these a go myself!

3. If you're tired of knitting, how about crocheting this festive bauble instead? Snow Swells is an intermediate pattern that won't take too long to finish. If you hurry, you might have enough to hang on your tree come Christmas.

4. These Snow Flurry Mittens are beautiful and I am loving that turquoise. The colour combination definitely makes me think of crisp winter days with deep layers of snow. This pattern is available in one size with two different lengths, so check any measurement on the pattern page to make sure they will fit you.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Waiting to Cast On: My first Jumper

Now, I don't know about you, but jumpers (or sweaters for you are the most daunting thing for me when it comes to knitting. On the whole they are no different from other knits: you have a pattern and you go ahead and knit it. Yet there is so much customisation involved in knitting a jumper that is meant to fit me that I haven't dared to try it yet.

Now this is going to change. I jumped in at the deep end an bought a sackful of yarn. Literally. I went for Cascade 220 Superwash in ruby red and charcoal. I had to guess how much I'd need, but I feel quite confident that 15 balls in total should be enough even for my size. I may be wrong, but we will cross that bridge when we get there.

I have narrowed down my pattern search to two possibilities: I will either design my own jumper based on the formula in the Big Girl Knits books I have or, ideally, I'll give the Pixelated Pullover by Jennifer Beaumont a go.

Source: Pixelated Pullover

A fellow knitter at #knittinghour on Twitter posted a link to this jumper and I love it. I spent a lot of time going through everyone's projects there to see which colour combinations people have chosen. My favourite is the one in dark blue, grey and yellow - so unusual and striking. 

So Pixelated is my first choice now, I have finished my swatch and that's quite an achievement considering I hate doing that and usually just wing it, but this jumper is supposed to fit, so I better do things properly. Mind, it may take ages to finish this jumper and I am not sure I will finish it by the end of the year. 

Right now I am taking a Craftsy class, Curvy Knits by Marly Bird, to learn how to make changes to patterns so that the finished jumper will fit well in the right places. Once I have finished this class I will finally be able to cast on. I have to say I am very tempted to cast on already and at least start with the neckline - not a lot of alterations needed there. We'll see how long I can resist.

Do you remember knitting your first jumper? How did it go? Let me know your top tips!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Elefante: The Cutest Knitted Elephant There Ever Was

Can you believe I found yet another project I never blogged about? How did this happen? Somehow I missed out a few knitted toys and am playing catch up now that I have noticed their absence.

Exactly a year ago, I finally knitted Elefante, a pattern I had had on my to-knit list for a very long time. It is the perfect project for using up yarn scraps, which is exactly what I did. You can see a huge number of Elefante made by other knitters on Ravelry to get an idea of what colours might go well together in this pattern. 

The odd thing is that I always had the impression this was a small elephant, but it is in fact quite large! I was surprised when I finished the body and wondered how much bigger the final toy would be. Turns out it is pretty big for something that looks so small on photos. This does not distract from its cuteness, though, and I love it. As you can see, I used small black buttons for eyes and I am especially happy with the crocheted ears (finding a bit of crochet in the pattern was a bit of a surprise), the tail and the way the colours have lined up.

Doesn't it look cute when it is stood up on its legs (love those legs) and its trunk? It stands up very well and can sit up, too. You will need quite a lot of toy filling for this. It is amazing how much stuffing is needed to give Elefante a decent shape. 

This is an easy toy to knit so if you are comfortable knitting in the round, give it a go. And if you aren't, this could be a great opportunity to get to grips with DPNs.

Have you knitted any toys lately or are you perhaps making some as Christmas gifts this year? Let me know!

Friday, 6 November 2015

Finlay the Fox: Armless and Stubby Tailed

Poor little Finlay. He did not turn out the way he was meant to. If you read my last post, you will remember that I mentioned being rather unlucky with knitting kits. Finlay was the first kit I got as part of Knit Now magazine and it didn't go well at all.

As you can see, Finlay has no arms, unfortunately. He does have a tail, but it is a little stumpy compared to what the pattern called for, but I ran out of orange yarn so quickly that I had to stop before his tail was at its full size. These are my projects note from Ravelry at the time:
Rubbish kit from Knit Now. It does not contain eyes or yarn for the features, but only the two main colours of the body. Also, there isn’t enough of the orange yarn and my fox has therefore got no arms and less orange in the tail. Very disappointed. Contacted the magazine to see what they say. Yarn could have been saved by knitting in the round instead of flat. The ears should be pointier. I used some dark blue scrap yarn for the face.
Obviously, I was not a happy bunny! I was contacted by the editor of Knit Now who happened to see my Finlay on Ravelry and she said she would send me more yarn. That never happened, so I completely forgot to blog about this project at the time. It's been exactly a year since I finished him so it is high time he made an appearance, don't you think?

Despite his armlessness and stubby tail, Finlay is fun anyway and he is perfectly at home with all my other knitted creatures. 

Have you ever had problems with a kit? What did you do?

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Santa Knitting Kit from Let's Knit Magazine

Not long now till Christmas! I assume you are knee deep in seasonal gift knitting right now. I have to admit that I am not knitting at all for Christmas this year and have decided to just knit for myself instead. It's not that seasonal gift knitting has ever been particularly stressful for me so far, but I no longer have as much time to knit now that I have a new(ish) job. Though I must say that buying the right present for people seems unusually difficult for me this time around. Somehow knitting was easier.

Anyway, I wanted to show you my little knitted Santa that came as a knitting kit with Let's Knit Magazine in October. One weekend I felt the need to buy all Christmas craft magazines I liked the look of and so this magazine became part of the loot. I am very happy with this little Santa despite a few problems. It turns out that the pattern got the yarn colours wrong and I ended up knitting Santa with a black face at first. I thought that was meant to be his belt so his head would be added separately and didn't spot the error till I finished that section. Sadly, there were no clear pictured of what was hidden under his beard or I wold have realised the mistake right away.

The kit contained slightly too little yarn as well. This always happens to me! (Actually, I wanted to add a link here to another kit that contained too little yarn, but I realised I never blogged about it because it was so frustrating. I shall have to add a post about it soon.) Luckily, Santa had enough yarn for me to finish up all the pieces. The final arm had to be sewn on with some leftover sock yarn I happened to have in a similar shade.

I am not sure about his boots, though. I would have made them round instead of long, I think, just to make them look neater. Other than that I am very happy with him and he is now sitting on my desk at work, making sure I don't behave too naughtily. 

Did you knit this kit as well? Please leave your links in the comments so we can all have a look.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

My First Spin City UK Spindle

If you are a spinner in the UK, you may have heard of Spin City UK's resin spindles and fibre batts. I never tried them until now and was keen to give them a go. I bought my first spindles some years ago at a wool fair and have since accumulated a few more, including a tiny Turkish spindle and a Russian. I love them all and don't use them nearly enough now that I also have a spinning wheel. Still, this did not stop me from taking part in Plutonium Muffins' giveaway in August - I was just too tempted by the pretty flowers encased in resin.

It really is a pretty whorl and I love looking at it. Sadly, though, that is where it ends. It's not as professionally made a spindle as most others I have. Like a lot of beginner spindles, it is a basic construction consisting of a simple dowel rod, hook and, in this case, a handmade resin whorl. I was looking forward to spinning up the generous sample of John Arbon fibre I received from Plutonium Muffins along with the spindle and Spin City batt. As you can see, I did spin it and there may be photos of it soon. The fibre was fantastic to use and the colours are amazing. The red is not just a single shade, which makes it a very vivid yarn that I wish I had more of. I do love that colour a lot.

Obviously, this is not a spindle made by a woodturner and it is a very basic construction. That alone does not put me off a spindle, but there is an issue with balance here that makes spinning anything nearly impossible. The balance is off and the spindle wobbles excessively no matter what I do, which makes for anything but a smooth spinning experience. I am not sure if shortening the dowel might improve matters, but I may have to try that. As it is, I can't use the spindle so I might as well. Alternatively, I suppose using it as a bottom whorl spindle should work better. I have never had this problem with a spindle before, so I am very disappointed and a bit sad about it.

If you can help me troubleshoot and have any suggestions for improvement, please let me know! Also, if you use spindles from Spin City UK, how are you getting on?

Thursday, 22 October 2015

ChiaoGoo Interchangeable Knitting Needles

There are a few knitting needle brands that I have yet to try and I suppose for most knitters the search for the perfect needles never ends. My last purchase was a pair of fixed circulars from HiyaHiya which I am very happy with and, buoyed by that experience, I decided to make my next purchase a ChiaoGoo one.

I think you will agree that you can never have enough knitting needles. I have realised that even though I have most sizes, I could use more of the same in case I want to knit more things at the same time that do require the same size needles. So now I am gradually expanding my collection and the needles I want to show you today are ChiaoGoo Twist interchangeables. (As you can see above, I also bought their Red Lace fixed circulars, but I won't be writing a separate post about them since most of what I have to say about the interchangeables goes for the fixed circs, too.)

These needles look very slick and sturdy and I like that the cable is a flexible nylon-covered wire cable. I was unconvinced at first, but after trying them I realised the wire makes the cables sturdier and they are less likely to kink. Like Knit Pro interchangeables, ChiaoGoo interchangeables have tips that are screwed into the ends of the cables. You get a T-pin, the kind we use for blocking, to fasten them if necessary. ChiaoGoo sell the fact that the holes in the ends of the cables are meant to be used for lifelines. Mind you, Knit Pro has these holes, too, but they are primarily mentioned in connection with fastening the needle tips. ChiaoGoo cleverly recognised the use for lifelines, though I think the fact that it is sold to us as something new and unique is a bit silly.

As an aside, lifelines are really useful: they mark rows so that if you make a mistake on a later row, you can simply rip back to that point if needed, without losing your stitches along the way. You can use another bit of yarn for this or dental floss or any other kind of string. Check out this tutorial for details:

Right after I bought these needles, I cast on my Blubberblasen hat and try them out. ChiaoGoo needles knit really very well and I am absolutely happy with them. I can't decide whether I prefer HiyaHiya or ChiaoGoo, to be honest. I prefer the slick tips of HiyaHiya, but ChiaGoo cables are better. That said, I have no complaints about the ChiaoGoo tips so far, so all is well. In fact,  I am sure I will buy some more in the future.

The needle tips are pointy, though not quite as pointy as Knit Pro Nova. But again, I do not have any complaints and knitting with ChiaoGoo Twist has been great so far. They are a very good addition to my collection and I definitely recommend them. If you can get your hands on them, give them a go! I have only heard good things about them and, based on my experience with them, agree that they are fantastic to knit with.

Have you got ChiaoGoo needles yourself? Let me know how you like them.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Blubberblasen: A Hat With(out) a Pattern

This has probably been the longest knitting I have ever done for just one hat. Honestly. Whereas it normally takes me just 2-3 days to knit one, my Blubberblasen hat took pretty much a whole month to finish. 

In fact, the whole enterprise was fraught with difficulties right from the start. The pattern is available as a PDF that I wasn't able to download. So I looked up the bubble stitch pattern elsewhere and improvised, thinking that I would check the pattern again later when decreasing for the crown.

The bubble stitch slows you down quite a bit because you have to drop stitches and pick them up again at regular intervals. That's also why I didn't knit every day and only made a few rows' progress when I did sit down to work on my hat.

When I was ready to start decreasing stitches, I tried downloading the pattern again, but no luck. This wasn't going to be easy: How do you do decreases without ruining the stitch pattern? All I could do was have a close look at other people's hats to see what they had done and I just gave it a go. I am very happy with my decreases now. They look neat and haven't broken up the stitch pattern too much.
It could have been worse! I like my new hat even though it is not as wide in the body as I would like. The pattern looks good and the hat is warm enough for our chilly autumn days right now.

Wollmeise "Pure" 100% Merino Superwash
2 mm circular needles

Blubberblasen by Andrea Ludwig

Saturday, 10 October 2015

A First For Me

Even if you have been knitting for a while, there are still a lot of firsts awaiting you on your woolly journey. Maybe it's your first lace project or your first jumper. Maybe it is the first time you tackle Fair Isle or your very first own design.

Last month I tackled a first and hosted a sock knitting KAL (knitalong) over on Twitter, as you will have read here. I really enjoyed it and our little group did manage to knit at least one complete sock by the end of the four weeks it took to send out the pattern in instalments. The participants have told me they enjoyed their KAL and especially those who were afraid of sock knitting were very glad to have taken the plunge. I look forward to seeing them knit more socks now that they have realised that they are not as difficult as they seem. I was happy to hear that the KAL introduced some new techniques, too. You can see some of the finished socks above.

This KAL was a pleasant experience for me as well, which surprised me. I expected many more frantic questions, but the knitters seemed to have little trouble with my pattern. Writing one that is clear enough for beginning sock knitters was a challenge because it is hard to tell what a newbie may be unfamiliar with. It is good to see that I appear to have got it right with my pattern.

As soon as the KAL finished, knitters were eager for a new one already. Everyone seems to be keen to do a shawl KAL next so after a break I will give it some thought and find out what exactly people are expecting from such a knitalong. If you want to stay up-to-date on any KAL news or just talk to fellow-knitters, stop by #knittinghour on Thursdays from 7:30 - 8:30 PM (UK time). We chat about all things knitting and lots of other things, too. Brownie points for anyone who brings virtual cake or cocktails! Mine's a Caipirinha, by the way.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Tag, You're It!

And now for something a little different. My fellow craft blogger and writer Icy tagged me as part of the Blogger Interview Tag, asking four questions about what we do in this little part of the internet.

So let's get started!

How did you get into blogging?

Shortly after I taught myself to knit, I wanted to have a place to record my projects. I thought it would be nice to read back and see what I made since learning the most basic stitches. Back then I wasn't reading blogs and wasn't interested in whether anyone was reading mine. My blog was simply for me. If anyone else read it, that was a bonus. 

Nowadays I still see it the same way, but I am aware that I have readers and I see the blog partly as an extension of my business, too, although I don't want it to turn into a blog set to sell you things. I just want it to be an interesting read about knitting.

What advice would you give to bloggers starting out?

It helps to know what you want from a blog. Do you just want a place to write down your thoughts? Are you looking to connect with people and have discussions? Are you going to focus on a particular topic? Do you want to use your blog to drive sales for your business? Making that decision will help you fill your blog with the right content and find the best tone.

Be aware that nowadays people tend not to leave comments as much as they used to. Instead, they are more active on social media so make it possible for your readers to reach you there, too. Add social media widgets to your blog and don't get disheartened by few people commenting directly on your blog.

What would be your dream campaign?

Since my blog is primarily a private blog rather than a business one, this doesn't really apply to me. I'm happy to keep things small and maybe review products for knitters and spinners once in a while if businesses are interested, but this is very rare, which is a good thing. By the way, very few of my reviews are about things sent to me by businesses and I mention it in the relevant blog posts.

Do you have a plan for your blog?

At this stage I want to keep the blog as it is. I am very happy with it and intend to keep up the regular posts. (That said, this post is later than expected due to illness - sorry about that.) What I post about next depends on what I will be making! 

Let's keep the tag going! I tag:

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

#knittinghour Sock KAL for Beginners - Week 4

You've nearly made it! Welcome to the final week of our #knittinghour sock KAL for beginners. You have almost completed your first sock and all that is left is to knit the toe section before you can proudly wear it (and move on to sock number 2, of course). So let's get started!

Week 4


Round 1: k1, ssk, k24, k2tog, k2, ssk, k24, k2tog, k1

Round 2: k all

Round 3: k1, ssk, k22, k2tog, k2, ssk, k22, k2tog, k1

Round 4: k all

Round 5: k1, ssk, k20, k2tog, k2, ssk, k20, k2tog, k1

Round 6: k all

Round 7: k1, ssk, k18, k2tog, k2, ssk, k18, k2tog, k1

Round 8: k all

Round 9: k1, ssk, k16, k2tog, k2, ssk, k16, k2tog, k1

Round 10: k all

Round 11: k1, ssk, k14, k2tog, k2, ssk, k14, k2tog, k1

Round 12: k all

Round 13: k1, ssk, k12, k2tog, k2, ssk, k12, k2tog, k1

Round 14: k all

Round 15: k1, ssk, k10, k2tog, k2, ssk, k10, k2tog, k1

Round 16: k all

Round 17: k1, ssk, k8, k2tog, k2, ssk, k8, k2tog, k1

Round 18: k all

Round 19: k1, ssk, k6, k2tog, k2, ssk, k6, k2tog, k1

Round 20: k all

Nearly there! All you need to do now is close up the toe so you can wear your first ever socks. The neatest way to do this is a little tricky, but it is worth the trouble. If you can’t manage it this time, don’t worry. You can simply sew the toe together if you like.

It’s really difficult to explain this stitch without a video, so go have a look at Purl Soho’s video tutorial to help you visualise what you need to do:

And you’re done! Wear your socks with pride. 

Thank you for taking part in the #knittinghour sock KAL.

See past installments:

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3

Saturday, 19 September 2015

"Our jungle fighters want socks"

The great thing about creative people is that they tend to really think about what you might like when they send you things.

I've been meaning to show you this card since Claire sent it to me with some item she was destashing. The card is perfect for a knitter and it is one I hadn't seen before. That's not very surprising since I tend to be more familiar with the Second World War from the other, German, side of things. It was only in recent years that I became aware of how much knitting was being done for soldiers by British citizens at home. 

Having such a little piece of history on a card is oddly lovely.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

#knittinghour Sock KAL for Beginners - Week 3

It's been a tough week, I am sure, for those who have braved the tricky heel over the past week. It is definitely the hardest part of any sock, but I hope that by breaking it down into steps, knitting your heel wasn't too tough. You've made it now and can relax this week because it's all about plain stockinette now.



Yay, time for some mindless knitting! 

If you still have your stitch markers in the middle of the sole stitches, move it to the end of the sole stitches instead. It is now positioned in front of the first stitch for the top of the sock’s foot. This will be the new beginning of your round.

Simply knit all stitches until your sock is 2” (5 cm) shorter than your total foot length. Easy peasy.

Continue with:

Week 1
Week 2
Week 4